Monday, March 14, 2011

Book Review - The Magus by John Fowles

The Magus by John Fowles is one of those books in which, after finally finishing the lengthy tome, I am not sure if I liked it or not. I will state, however, that I became a fan of Fowles work after reading the novel The Collector; his style of prose is unrivaled in the world of contemporary literature. However, The Magus left me feeling a bit disappointed, with special regards to the ending. Do Nicholas and Alison get back together or are they separated forever? Once I discovered Alison’s true “role” in the book, I felt somewhat cheated in knowing that the entire book was based on a lie that should not have been so grandiose. This is a story about control through the mind, of lies and deceit with a glimmer of truth that is too real to be taken seriously. And dear innocent and na├»ve Nicholas is the heart of it all, a player that is flawed enough to take part in a play that, honestly, has no end.
I have always enjoyed reading cat and mouse books, tales with twists and turns at every point that will confuse the reader while explaining the events in a way that others would never dream of doing in the real world. In The Magus, however, the game makes no sense to be dragged on for so long, in my opinion. Conchis and his “assistants” have created a game that pushes the envelope completely off the desk and yet it answers nothing. All it claims to do is break the will of others with no purpose in sight. Nicholas does not redeem himself and his past actions; all we can do as readers is sit back and watch the painful play progress into nothing, or perhaps something that is too over our heads to comprehend and enjoy.
I am still a fan of Fowles for the writing was still superb and flowed with his voice. This is not an easy tale to tell but Fowles does so with grace and style with just a hint of being a young overachiever (this was his third published novel). While his words are profound set against quite a monstrous backdrop, the plot leaves nothing to the imagination and is way more than I bargained for. Perhaps others will call me wrong for such critical treatment of this book; however, this is not a work that one can take lightly no matter how seasoned a reader may be. Am I glad I read The Magus? Yes. Will I read more works by Fowles? Yes. Has The Magus imprinted something in my brain? Yes. In reflecting on the quote Utram bibis? Aquam et undam?, I must say that I most certainly drank the wave and it was not what I had hoped for.

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